If you’re interested in taking up horseback riding as a hobby, Tennessee (and especially Williamson County) is a great place to be. With its natural beauty, access to several horseback riding trails and resources for equestrians, this is a great place to embark on your horseback riding journey.
Trail riding is a wonderful experience. Tracey Blake says it best in her article “Why I love….horse riding” for The Guardian when she wrote “It’s this close proximity to the natural world that provides such a sense of escapism and relaxation. Suddenly, you notice the small stuff….”
Before you head out on your first trail riding session, it is important to consider a few safety precautions.
1.Seek out an experienced coach
The safest way to learn to ride is with an experienced riding instructor or coach. Don’t go it alone. Not only will you learn faster; you will also be safer as you learn. This is especially true as you learn to do trail riding. An instructor will teach you basic and advanced riding skills, including stopping and turning and how to cue for transitions between gaits. They can also spot any bad habits you may have and help you correct them before you head out on a trail. When first taking a horse out on a trail, having an instructor near by is for your and the horse’s safety. Once you’ve received basic training from an experienced coach, you can begin to branch out.
2.Wear the right equipment
Just with any sport, horseback riding includes special safety attire that protects you and the horse. While the instructor may have the protection gear for the horse, it’s safer to ensure you have gear that properly fits you. The most important part of this gear is the ASTM approved riding helmet. Due to the height and speed of horseback riding, if you were to fall, a head injury could be severe. Having a properly fitting helmet helps to reduce the chance and severity of a head injury if something should happen. Wearing sturdy boots with a one-inch heel is also important. This prevents the chance of your foot slipping through a stirrup and the chance of being dragged if you were to fall. Finally, consider wearing a protective safety vest while riding.
3. Plan your route
Like with any trip, you’ll need to plan your route. This is so that not only you know where you’re going and can avoid any safety hazards, but you’ll also want to leave a map and approximate return time for folks back home in case something happens. When planning your route, avoid roads as this is a high accident area as vehicles may unintentionally spook your horse.
4. Take care of inexperienced riders and horses
When riding in a group, there’s extra care that should be considered. Generally speaking, you’ll want to pace yourself with what is comfortable for the newest riders and/or greenest horses. One way to do this is to consider changing leaders, where the front person falls to the back of the line every 15 to 30 min depending on your needs. To change positions, look for an open space where you’ll have plenty of room to step out of the lead and allow others to pass. Experienced coaches and riders can help with this process. One other tip for group riding is to keep space between the horses. If a horse kicks out, they won’t be able to reach the other horse or accidentally kick you.
Trail riding is fun and enjoyable. By following these tips, you can ensure the best experience for yourself and others with you.
This article is brought to you by Franklin Horse Supply, Middle Tennessee’s newest and most complete horse supply store. They carry a full line of English and Western tack, clothing and accessories, as well as your favorite horse care products. Learn more here.
Find Franklin Horse Supply at 1561 Columbia Ave, Franklin.